For a moment, let’s go to the dogs. Dog trainers have long told us that the first primary sense of a dog is her nose. Scent. So probably yelling at a dog who is hot on the trail of food, bird, raccoon, food, bunny, food . . .etc . . .will not yield the instant results that most dog owners would like to see (hats off to the dog owners who have perfectly mannered canines).
Now back to babies and children and adolescents. What works best in communication? Eyes? Ears? Touch?
Sorry, I don’t have the research to back this up; however, it has been my experience that the EYES have it, no doubts here. (Except for when sight is not available, but for now we will stay within the sighted realm.)
We want newborns to be able to make eye contact with their primary caretakers. We have the research that shows that when infants can not elicit a facial expression from Mom, that they begin to exhibit signs of anxiety and then true distress. We know that eye contact between parents and infants is a major building block in establishing Emotional Security for the infant.
Jump forward a couple of years. We have now taught our little ones to “behave” by giving them “THE LOOK.” What parent has not accumulated a distinct “LOOK” for instantly communicating displeasure of a child’s behavior? It seems to me that most kids know that when Mom gives them “THE LOOK” that all heck will come about as soon as the public appearance has receded.
We have also taught our kids to look to our faces when they want understanding, forgiveness, celebration, acceptance, etc. We don’t have to say a thing. Our face is full of what we want to communicate with our child.
Now we’re into the pre-adolescent/adolescent years. Our kids have thoroughly analyzed each parent’s “LOOK” to determine choice of behaviors upon receiving “THE LOOK.” Parents of this age will note, most verbal communication is a mine field between parent and child. It is often much more effective to remain silent, conveying “you have my attention without judgment” in your face. This silent attention, without negative facial or body language will often promote the adolescent to verbally reveal more information.
As parents of grown children, “THE LOOK” is tempered and finally, if a healthy relationship is to be asserted, “THE LOOK” of old, poor childhood choices is replaced with a gentle facial understanding for the choices that adults make.
It is easy to establish a negative “LOOK” somewhere starting in the “terrible two’s.” It is very easy to totally prefect “THE LOOK” in the “trying three’s.” With an adult child’s understanding for what is wanted from the parent, create “THE LOOK” that communicates pleasure at being the parent of such an awesome child. This is “THE LOOK” that will the child will most want to receive and will work the hardest to achieve.
Go Gently with “THE LOOK” into the world of your child.